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Man sentenced for sending bomb hoax to UK vaccine plant and Wuhan lab

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By AP
A suspicious package was sent to the Wockhardt coronavirus vaccine facility in Wrexham in January.
A suspicious package was sent to the Wockhardt coronavirus vaccine facility in Wrexham in January.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Jon Super

A man who sent a bomb hoax to a UK coronavirus vaccine factory has been jailed for more than two years.

Anthony Collins was found guilty of sending a suspicious parcel to a plant in Wales that produced the Oxford-AstraZeneca shots.

Around 120 people had to be evacuated from the factory and vaccine production was halted during the bomb scare in January.

The British army’s bomb disposal unit found no explosives in the parcel.

Authorities also intercepted similar packages Collins sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office, a laboratory in Wuhan, and a US Air Force base in England.

Detective Inspector Adam Marshall said the 54-year-old was "fully aware of the impact his actions would have".

Collins had chosen to "impede vaccine rollout when the programme was still in its infancy," Marshall added.

His defence lawyer said Collins had a diagnosed personality disorder and had long been obsessed with sending letters and parcels.

He had earlier told police that the package — which contained a calculator, a garden glove, four batteries among other items — was meant to help scientists and the government cope with COVID-19.

He had developed an “obsessive interest” in the coronavirus and vaccines, his lawyer added.

But Judge David Griffith-Jones said Collins deliberately sent a bomb hoax “knowing perfectly well that it would cause fear and mayhem”.

The 54-year-old was sentenced to 27 months in prison, with the time that he had already spent in custody to be deducted.